!Khwa ttu San Digital Archive
Ghanzi district is known for its beef. Other literature on livestock production in Botswana asserts that Ghanzi is the biggest provider of beef in the country and produces half of the nation’s beef, for Botswana Meat Commission. So much success has been enjoyed by livestock farmers in the district.What makes grassroots level of beef production so successful? Credit must be given to the workers who wake every morning to take care of the livestock and make them ready for a bigger market. However, one thing that has irked me is the abuse of farm workers by farm owners. Living on a farm as a worker, secluding yourself from the larger community, not having access to education and health facilities at any time. And yet, these people, so determined to make a living, face horrific day to day challenges put to them by the farm owners.
Life at the Farm
Evidence, both in research and observation, suggests that farm workers do not have access to education and health facilities. They do not have job security and remuneration for the injuries that they incur during their tenure at the farm. Many more are evicted without notice although they have worked for decades on the farm. These actions leave them vulnerable to poverty that leads to thievery, transmitting diseases, alcohol abuse, etc. While at the farm they would manage to get by daily even though remuneration is minimal but when evicted without benefits, they are never ready for the life in the wider community where one needs money for one’s livelihood. Abuse at farms by farm owners towards these people needs serious attention. Although it is hard to trespass privately owned land in efforts to remedy this dire problem, there need to be policies set forth to safeguard the rights of these individuals working on the farms.
Health Risks of working on Farms
Although social problems are the center of discussion when featuring the issues of the farm workers, there are very serious health risks to the farm workers. Research has shown that there are some transmittable diseases from animals to humans. Furthermore, workers sustain grim injuries that require medical attention, which they seldom get. These injuries can result in long term complications for the victims.
Stern attention should be given to farm workers. It is often that these people have no formal qualifications, as a result, they find themselves at the mercy of the farm owners who use their skills to get more riches and underpay the workers. The exploitation of the farm workers should be safeguarded by strong policies that seek to address the needs and the safety of the workers, so that they can be treated with respect and dignity.